The white ideal of beauty is nothing new. There have been far more intelligent people writing far more articulately about the media disseminating the idea that white is the ideal for longer than I’ve been alive. I’ve read and even written about it during various classes at university and in grad school.
Even knowing all of this, I find it disturbing to have it shoved into my face on a regular basis here in Singapore.
Granted, there are a number of European and American stores here, and the advertising used for them is the same as in their home country. Ditto perfumes, shoes, etc. But I can’t help but notice that in a lot of home grown ads (such as the mall-specific ads at @313 during Christmas time–see below) also feature white people.
What I find very interesting is that this isn’t necessarily true when it’s a government sponsored ad, such as the pro-military ad campaign running on tv, buses, and billboards right now. My friend Kirsten, who is Singaporean and thus more knowledgeable and articulate on this campaign, writes about it here. These ads feature Singaporeans, rather than Caucasians.
But it isn’t just in advertising. There is a slew of products aimed at women that are “whitening products.”
Deoderents, skin creams, make-up…all there to help you achieve lighter skin to reach the white ideal of beauty.
I find it profoundly disturbing that girls are being taught not just that they need to force their bodies into a certain mold in terms of weight, and dress a certain way, but that their skin itself–the color that they were born–can make them less or more attractive.
While the US is certainly guilty of playing up the white ideal as well, I’ve never seen a “whitening” cream–maybe I just didn’t look carefully enough, or because they are, in fact, less common there. Friends in the US–let me know what you think.
At any rate…painkillers are kicking in and I know that I’m not making much sense, so I’m going to stop writing. Please feel free to start a conversation on this in the comments, though!
Meanwhile, I won’t be trying any of those…considering how pale I am already, I might just turn invisible!